Statement of the Issue:
According to Dr. Camara P. Jones and the American Public Health Association, “racism is defined as a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call ’race’), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.”
As medical professionals, we see firsthand the effects of racism that have led to conditions in which Black, Indigenous and other people of color do not have the same opportunity as white people in Minnesota to live healthy lives. We acknowledge that the health care system we are a part of has been complicit in upholding white supremacy and reproducing oppression. One cannot both endorse our current health care system and state that Black Lives Matter. We must do more.
Where MN has been:
Minnesota is, on average, one of healthiest states in the nation--yet, averages fail to tell the whole story. For decades, Minnesota has had some of the WORST racial health disparities in the United States.
Compared to white populations, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in Minnesota experience shorter life spans and higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases
Minnesota has one of the lowest overall infant mortality rates in the country for white Minnesotans (4.1/1,000), yet a massive disparity persists for Black (9.3/1,000) and American Indian (10.3/1,000) Minnesotans
Other statistics are available from the MN House of Representatives Select Committee on Racial Justice’s December 2020 report
Where MN needs to go:
MDHEQ has led coalition efforts with other Minnesota physician organizations in calling for state declarations of racism as a public health crisis
(June 30, 2020) Press Release: “Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity Leads Coalition of 9 Minnesota Physician Organizations Calling on State Leaders to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis”
MDHEQ stands with national medical and public health organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Physicians (ACP), American Public Health Association (APHA) in declaring racism as a public health crisis which requires urgent, expedited action.
MDHEQ supports the context and recommendations provided by the Minnesota House Select Committee on Racial Justice’s Report to the Legislature.
Legislative actions: MDHEQ will advocate for legislative and governmental actions to:
Incorporate racial equity assessments into all decision- and policy-making activities
Support the elimination of policies in health care systems that reduce access to care, such as refusing to accept patients insured through Medicaid or policies that delay care or appointments for low-income or uninsured patients
MDHEQ will help educate Minnesota’s physicians and medical students by:
Advocating for elimination of racial essentialism from medical school curricula and medical practice, including systematically reconsidering race-based clinical guidelines which obfuscate structural inequities
Encouraging development and implementation of anti-racism competencies and curricula which train future physicians to recognize race as a social construct, develop structural competency, and interrogate the impacts of racism on health
Encouraging critical review of existing curricula, and board certification/medical licensing exams, to ensure that the use of race does not perpetuate harmful stereotypes, the pathologization of race, or inequitable treatment.
MDHEQ will partner with the community by:
Engage in dialogue with Black, Indigenous and other communities of color and share power and resources with communities to accomplish co-created goals
Engage members on how to develop and incorporate human-centered design
Push MN health care employers to support the recruitment of and employment of more physicians and health care providers of color and to develop structures that help advance them to positions of leadership